No matter which country you are in, you can always identify a Somali woman by the heavenly Amber aura that surrounds her. This is Uunsi.
Homemade is always the best
This listing is for some especially nice Uunsi I brought back from a Somali grandmother in Marsabit Kenya. Somali grandmothers are known as the keepers of Uunsi recipes. Each with her own variations that she will only pass down to her daughters.
Also written as Cunsi is an aromatic secret distinguishing Somali women from all others. Its preparation and use are passed down from generation to generation through women. I doubt if a Somali man can list the ingredients and prepare a batch of Uunsi.
An incense and a perfume
Uunsi is both incense and perfume. Not a harsh synthetic perfume that you smell from a mile away and stays with you for hours, but a fragrance more like the natural smell of spring or fall that we wish we could capture.
Uunsii smoke is applied to the body and clothes when it is burned on charcoal. It is the secondary perfume lent by the smoke of burning Uunsi that is the true perfume. This is different, deeper and softer than the aroma of fresh Uunsi. Somali culture dictates that women burn Uunsi after cooking a meal to freshen the house. More importantly, using a special burner, clothing and body are regularly impregnated with its delightful soft scent. The true fragrance of Uunsi is only revealed after it is burned.The origin of the word perfume is “Per fume”, translated as by or through the smoke. The word refers to the method of perfuming oneself with the smoke of burning aromatic materials and incense.
A partial list of Uunsi ingredients may include, but is not limited to, Frankincense Frereana (Maydi), Myrrh, Onycha, Sugar, Oud, or Agarwood shavings, Sandalwood and Frankincense wood, Musk and essential oils.
Though Uunsi was made exclusively with natural materials once upon a time, synthetics find their way into most modern Uunsi, (And Arabian Bakhoor), formulas.
That being said, this batch is the most pleasant and natural-smelling Uunsi I have yet to burn.